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Hospital-Acquired and Institution-Acquired Pneumonia

by John G. Bartlett, MD

Hospital-acquired pneumonia develops in people who have been hospitalized, typically after about 2 days or more of hospitalization. Institution-acquired pneumonia develops in people who reside in nursing homes or who have contact with medical settings, such as dialysis centers.

  • Many bacteria, viruses, and even fungi can cause pneumonia in people who are hospitalized or have visited medical institutions.

  • The most common symptom of pneumonia is a cough that produces sputum, but chest pain, chills, fever, and shortness of breath are also common.

  • Diagnosis is made by listening to the lungs with a stethoscope and by examining x-rays of the chest.

  • Antibiotics, antiviral drugs, or antifungal drugs are used, depending on which organism has most likely caused the pneumonia.

One reason that pneumonia acquired in the hospital is more severe is that the infecting organisms tend to be more aggressive and harder to treat. Additionally, people in hospitals and nursing homes tend to be sicker even without pneumonia than those living in the community and therefore are not as able to fight the infection.

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